Everyone knows eBay - it’s the premier site to sell almost anything and make extra cash. But can YOU make money?
The Nuts and Bolts of eBay
A few years ago, my wife and I sold an old butter dish on eBay. According to one price guide, it was valued around $80, so to encourage bids we started at about half that. eBay works like many auctions, in that they manage the auction process for you in return for a percentage of the selling price. Plus, they also get an initial fee when listing, which is usually under a dollar.
Once listed, people (hopefully) bid on your item and the highest bid at the end wins. From there, you pack it up and ship it out. The final part of this exchange is the feedback process, whereby sellers and buyers both rate the other one with positive or negative comments. This feedback is a key part of eBay, since it helps people decide whether to deal with you; low feedback indicates you are just starting out, and negative feedback warns people there may be a problem. In our case, the dish was packed carefully, arrived safely, and the buyer left a happy reply and positive feedback.
A quick check on eBay shows the vast amount of items for sale, both new and used, and can give you an idea of the market for your goods. And it's huge! Over the years, I've successfully listed all kinds of items: software, original paintings, domain names - just about anything that can be sold online.
How to get going with eBay
eBay is vast, and while this single article can't cover every detail, I can give you some pointers based upon my decade of experience:
- Join today and start to browse. It's free to sign up, and required in order to buy or sell. You'll also want to join PayPal, eBay's sister company, which manages payments for many auctions on eBay. Although you can buy and sell via cheque, PayPal removes most international payment issues, and gets you your money faster.
- Start with small purchases. To sell, you'll need feedback, so begin with buying. Look for low-priced items to get used to the eBay experience. Be sure to read the auctions carefully, since shipping charges can be a problem if they are not specified for Canadian destinations. If in doubt, contact the seller, and ask for shipping and handling costs to your city.
- List inexpensive items first. When you're finally ready to sell, get experience in what works and what doesn't by starting slow and cheap. As with buying, mistakes with low-priced items hurt a lot less.
- Package well, and understand shipping. Most buyers will be American, so our Canadian packages need to travel further and cost more to send. The temptation is to package objects lightly to avoid higher weights (and charges), but a well-packaged item will arrive safely, which means positive feedback from buyers.
That's the tip of the eBay "iceberg." There's a lot of information out there, so it's important to keep learning, both by reading the helpful information on eBay and other sites. And, of course, practise by listing items and buying!
Selling made easier
Not everyone wants to learn about eBay in depth just to list a few items. For those people that don’t feel like becoming eBay sales virtuosos, there are people who will help sell your treasures for a fee. They’re called Trading Assistants and you can read more about them at eBay.com, or search under "eBay trading assistants." While anyone with an eBay account can sell your items for you, trading assistants do this for a living and understand eBay thoroughly, making your sales go smoother
But whether you sell, or someone else does, eBay is well worth checking out for those hard-to-sell items. Like my butter dish, a worldwide market means more potential customers, and a better chance of getting a good price. So dust off those curios, fire up your computer, and sell!
FEBRUARY 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
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